Oh Cali, you’ve done it again.


I am always the first to note that I am a New Yorker. Through and through. A bagel loving, pizza folding, IheartNY New Yorker. But somewhere along my timeline, I must have gotten sidetracked and gave away a big piece of my heart to California. This seems to be a trend among many east coasters. Its as if we had a time lapse. A battle of my inner conscious. Girls just don’t go around giving their hearts away to just anyone, let alone anyplace. Why would I have done such a thing?
On our recent vacation out west, I was reminded.

After the wedding of my dear friends Rachel and Josh, we headed up to Ventura, where we would take a ferry over to the Channel Islands. There we would Kayak around Santa Cruz island to explore the sea caves! The water was perfect. Erik proved to be the risk taker of the group, and the day was surrounded with sea lions, starfish, anemone, sea urchins, dolphins, and sun burn. All we needed was an aloe plant.

San Luis Obispo. Central Coast of California. For me this seems to be a perfect fit. Maybe it was the charming street signs, maybe it was the fog rolling in as it covered the mountains peaks. If I had to live out that way again, this would be where. We decided to have lunch at Big Sky Cafe. Not completely vegetarian, but wow. This might be where I could say I had my favorite meal of the trip. Erik had the vegetarian Pozole. A South American stew, spiced and seasoned perfectly, with Hominy. It was topped with a slice of cornbread and a slab of tofu. I had a veganized black bean Huevos Rancheros, and breakfast potatoes.


Side note: I find myself severely addicted to Hominy these days! Use this in a stew soon Meg!

After a filling breakfast we traveled around the corner to Kreuzberg, Ca coffee shop.
Berlin is a special place for Erik and I. What do Plato and Ayn Rand have in common? They are both entrees on the menu, along with a surplus of other great authors.


Haruki Murakami (a personal favorite of mine) was a vegan sesame tofu dish.

Erik had some doubts about Dostoevsky being a turkey pesto sandwich, but as we headed inside, we couldn’t miss a life size copy of the most prominent graffiti art in Kreuzberg Berlin. This place was filled with comfy furniture, and books…. tons and tons of books. Any of the books in store were fro sale. No more than $4. Unfortunately we had no room left in our bellies, so I ordered a latte. To my surprise, I had not only the option of soy, but almond, hazelnut, oat, rice, and coconut. This place was great.


Take note of the upside down light fixtures!

We bought sunscreen, and aloe then headed up the coast another 3 hours swirling round hwy 1. With our thrown together last minute packs, we set out for a 10 mile trek to Sykes hot springs. Knowing that we were going to stay the night at a place that had no amenities, we tried to pack lightly. Avocados, oranges, grapefruits, eggplant tapenade, and ezekiel sprouted tortillas, aseptic containers of miniture soy milk and packets of Chocolate vega protein mix, and coconut waters, held us up quit well. We hiked, camped, soaked in the springs, the set out for our 10 mile return. Just another beautiful day of hiking around the redwood covered mountains of Big Sur.
We made it out alive, still sunburned and our bodies sore, but lucky us, Big Sur Bakery was located just around the corner!

Big Sur Bakery prizes themselves on working with the local farmers, and the simple elegance of the vegetables themselves. We split a bread board, which included their 11-year in the perfecting 9- grain bread, and their italian bread. Both delish. I could’ve eaten a whole loaf. We made sure to finish all the black sea salt that was piled on the wooden board as well. We also split a vegetable dish that was composed of cauliflower, pine nuts, green beans, and cranberries. It was divine! The flavors were so fresh. We finished it off with two espresso shots, and hit the long road back to so Cal.

We made a stop in Los Angeles on our way back to visit some friends and family. Our dear friend Roi, is a chef at Sun Cafe in Studio City. Sun Cafe serves mostly raw vegan food. Roi insisted we try the gluten free macaroni and ‘cheese’ and Erik wanted to get his raw fix, and ordered the Pad Thai, with kelp noodles.


Both were great, but we were quite envious of Roi’s raw Shamrock shake, which consisted of banana, mint, spinach, and raw cacao. On the drive down I was whining about craving an ice cream sundae, which doesn’t happen often.

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Roi insisted we skip the shakes and head around the corner to kindkreme. Kindkreme is and all raw, all vegan ice cream shop. They have 3 locations, offering cones, cups, shakes, floats, and pints to go! My craving was met! I got a cone with a scoop of mint chip, and a scoop of the superfood which had raw cacao, goji berries, hazelnuts, chia seeds, and a whole mess of other raw goodness.

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The owner was so nice, she offered to let us sample every flavor!

The rest of the trip was filled with M Cafes’ sushi and macro bowls topped with the best seitan in the world (I have said this many a times before- go there and just get a side of seitan with their macro-ketchup!), beer breakfasts at Ranchos accompanied by chilaquiles, and the fabulous tofu cutlet sandwiches from Mama Turners B & B. Though many more food ground was left to be covered, our last stop before the drive to the airport was the old time fav, Influx Tofu #1’s.

The whole vacation was well spent, absorbing everything the beauties of California had once offered me, and had proven to stay true. I understood why my heart had sunk as I boarded the plane back to Wisconsin. I missed it already. The drive back up from the airport felt like forever. I knew work beckoned in less than 6 hours. But as I arrived home, my heart had been so distracted, that I had forgotten with what was really important… these two:


Kala & Cooper

And then I was glad to be home.

The Ex List

Kevin Sorbo (aka hercules) & Elizabeth Reaser, shooting at Alexanders on 30th, North Park

Aside from my busy veg adventures with opening the San Diego location of Nature’s Express, I’ve been doing some black market catering. Well not really, but I have had the opportunity of a lifetime. There is this new TV show, and the lovely lead actress just happens to be a vegan. Since the show is being filmed right here in San Diego, they needed someone to provide on set food for the actress, Elizabeth Reaser, playing the role of Bella.
When this first fell into my lap, I thought it was a one time gig. Turns out they needed more vegan goodness then I had dreamed of.
The show revolves around Bella, an early thirties woman who is trying to find ‘the one’. She meets a fortune teller that tells her she has one year, or she’ll never be getting hitched. the catch is that she has supposibly already met the one. So like most single women out there, she starts a list. The Ex-List. Each episode is centered around Bella reconnecting with a former ex boyfriend. Not a terrible idea for a sitcom.
So whats a vegan actress to do when a scene calls for food, and there’s no way she’s bitting into something thats not vegan? Well, she gets a personal vegan chef to cater her every acting bite! How darn cool.

Tea Platters in the wonderbread factory

I’m not sure if I should be posting these pics, but oh well. It’s too fun to not write about. I’ve done about 10 different dishes for the series so far, and up until 2 weeks ago, I didn’t even feel comfortable taking pictures on set. So far I’ve done vegan eggs benedict, penne a la vodka, chocolate cakes, thai stir-fry, cookies, gourmet dinner for 2, omlettes tea platters and a carpacchio salad. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s not just one plate each. Every time they shoot a scene they film the shot from 4 different angles. Which means the food has to look the same every time. So for the one vegan chocolate cake, I needed to make 6. And so on.
There is usually a ton of leftovers, that everyone wants to take home, or I end up bringing to the treehouse kids…. lucky vegans. Its crazy to think about how much time, and energy go into a single 23 minute episode. From hair & make up to lighting and sound. It really does take a lot of manpower. It was so great to see all the beautiful places in San Diego turned into a TV sitcom. Newport beach, cool restaurants and pubs, and one of my most favorite places in all of San Diego, the mission hills nursery. ex-ist-photo-5.JPG
Heirloom tomato Carpaccio with vegan mozzarella, and balsamic reduction

In the end, the show started getting bad reviews, and CBS decided to cancel it. The Ex List had a total of thirteen episodes whom all aired on French-Canadian television in 2009.
Elizabeth went on to star in the motion picture Twilight, playing the role of Edwards’ ‘mother’. And I returned to dividing my time between Ritual Tavern, and Nature’s Express, yet again.
In the time of 2 months I received 5 paychecks from FOX studios. After hanging them on the fridge to show my personal A+, they will be framed, and saved in the grandkids box. Gold star for me.

Eclipse Chocolat Cafe

Eclipses’ Blackberry-Sage chocolate bar

It was just like any ordinary busy afternoon in San Diego, until lunch.
After some lunch at Mama’s (always a hit!), Drew pointed out this somewhat hidden Chocolate Cafe. “Chocolate cafe?” It didn’t take longer than 2 seconds to get me to at least take a look!
The first thing obviously noticed was the bright teal painted walls. Their pledge is also stated boldly on the wall. Organic when possible, and maintaining ‘green’ operations in the store, as well as products. 10% of the annual profits go back into the community thru local charities. Pretty darn cool.


Now, as a vegan, walking into a chocolate shop, you have to be prepared to see a ton of delicious truffles, and beautiful chocolate delicacies, that more than likely contain milk, butter or other dairy by-products.
Then, as I glanced over the beautifully displayed truffles, I noticed that 2 of them were very clearly labeled, Vegan Friendly Hooray!!!
I knew it was my lucky day!

Ginger & Sea salt

I love the taste of salt. Not over-salty, but salt. After all, salt brings and enhances flavors together. But most importantly, I love the benefits of a good salt. So in the display case, the sight of coarsely ground sea salt with a ball of rich chocolate-coconut milk-caramel, got my mouth watering! And better yet a ginger kick to boot! Yum. On a side note, I’ve recently been reading about some of the pollutants that can be found in sea salt. So I’m strictly using on Himalayan mined celtic salt at the homestead now. It’s more on the pricey side, but a little goes a long way. Really, you only need a pinch for most everything.

Toasted Coconut

Want more? How bout some vegan toffee! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to peanuts, so I didn’t get to try. There was another vegan-labeled toffee bar, but it had honey, so be careful. I mentioned this to the girl working, and she was going to change it to say ‘dairy-free.’

Peanut butter Toffee

I hadn’t the time to stay, but I needed coffee, and what better to go with some chocolate! The girl working was very polite, and made me the most amazing organic soy-mocha! I think there was cacao nibs or something in it. Anyway, it was awesome. Glancing over the menu, I noticed they offered a vegan fondue, served with bread and fruit! Perfect for date-night! It’s been ages since I’ve had chocolate fondue! Next time when I have more time.

Hand rolled Truffles, 2 for $5

Another cool thing about this place is the 100% post consumer packaging. The owner and Chocolatier, Will Gustwiller, also has a food blog. You can read it here. They always seem to be expanding their menu, and enjoy catering to us vegans out there. Oh, and did I mention the free wi-fi. Trouble. I could be here all day eating chocolate and comfortably sitting at my laptop, while sipping my coffee. Trouble. The location was a bit odd, but easy if you are familiar with Mama’s Lebanese bakery or the Livewire bar. I can’t wait to go back….dreams of chocolate everything in my head till then!


Nature’s Express Wraps!



Let me introduce to you my new friends…
I present you with the Raw Thai Ginger Collard Wrap, Raw Cashew Hummus Wrap, BBQ Tempeh Wrap, the Tequila Lime Chicken Wrap! All vegan, mostly organic.


I created these wraps for Kung Food, and now under Nature’s Express, they are sold in every Jimbo’s here in San Diego, as well as Whole Foods, and soon to be in every Whole Foods in LA county!!!

I’m so excited that some of my recipes are available to the public! My favorite is the Tequila Lime “Chicken”, or TLC as I call it.


Both the raw wraps are great for a light delicious lunch, plus we all need more raw veggies in our diet! If you’re in the area grab one for lunch on your way to work! Heck, grab two! If you aren’t in the Southern California area, we also ship through buykind.com.



Feedback on these yummy vegan wraps is always appreciated!

Nature’s Express Arizona should finally be open in 2-3 weeks. Its all coming together so beautiful. I can’t wait for the San Diego location! More to come soon!

Hillcrest Farmers Market


Ahhh, Sunday mornings. Upon wakening, I open my eyes, do a quick stretch, grab my bike, and I’m out the door. OK so it doesn’t happen quite like that every Sunday morning, but the one thing that I do enjoy waking up early on the weekends for, is the Hillcrest Farmers Market. Some of you might argue with me over which is the best of the 20 plus markets San Diego has to offer, but I think I’m sticking with Hillcrest! Located in the DMV parking lot, every Sunday from 9am-1pm, rain or shine, summer & throughout the small season of what is called winter here in Southern California.
There are so many wonderful vendors, but heres some clips of my favorites!


First, and my most favorite, is La Milpa Organica Farm stand. They carry a HUGE selection of the most vita-rich greens imaginable. Ranging from chards, kales, dandelions, collards, mustards, spring mix, and any other dark leaf you can think of. Lately they’ve had a braising mix, which is a blend of all their amazing greens! Heres a pick of them before cooking!


Another new favorite edition of mine, is the Majestic Garlic booth. Geni is usually there with a ton of different flavors to try. All of their spreads are always vegan friendly, and mostly raw. Try the cucumber mint, tarragon, and the smokey flavors! Great for sandwich spreads, cracker dipping, or baked potatoes. Don’t put up a fuss about the garlic breath either! Garlic has been used to fight disease spreading agents, and is super high in anti-oxidants.

Who can walk buy the raw pie guys without stopping to look at the vibrant pizzas! Live pesto pizza is a favorite, made with a flax cracker crust, pesto sauce, and topped with fresh veggies. The also have all different flavors of dessert pies, as well as zucchini noodle pasta! Raw foodies beware!


And the coolest kids you’ll meet at the market, with the best organic avocados, chiramoyas, and friendliest smiles….. Creekside Tropicals!


So if you haven’t been, you should. Support our wonderful local farmers! Your money goes directly into the hands of the farmer, you know exactly where your food is coming from, and you get the best deals in town! What more could you want? I’ll personally provide a wake up call for anyone that wants to bike down on a Sunday morning with me:) We can shop, then munch on some vegan tamales, and samosas! Your treat!


Nature’s Express, the future of fast food


Its nearing the end of summer. August is 1 week away from being over, and sad to say so is Good Karma.

Just what have I been doing for the last 6 weeks? The people behind the scenes of San Diego’s beloved Kung Food, have another project in the works! As most of us are very familiar with the KF drive thru, we have also had a sister location on the Venice boardwalk.


Serving the most amazing vegan fast food, such as Soy Chicken Chipotle sandwiches, Pesto Burgers, Chili Cheese Fries, Homemade Ice Cream & Mylk Shakes!
Perfect for veg-heads who love their fried food, and hate having to question fryers shared with meat. Or those buff muscle beach lifters (see pic below!)
And more importantly, perfect for aging men and women who want to see a change in their diet, or maybe even their kids’ but don’t know where to start.
The concept behind good karma seems so appropriate for what our society needs. I could start to go into the million and one reasons why veganism plays a huge part in preserving our future, but I’ll save that for another day 🙂
Sad to say that Good Karma will be leaving the boardwalk, closing its doors August 28th. We will be relocating to La Brea, and Olympic, mid-city LA. We’re hoping it’ll be a fast change, and our loyal customers, some who drive from west LA to east LA, 4 times a week in LA traffic (ugh!) will still come out to visit.

So as for the future of vegan fast food? Well, the owners are changing the name to Nature’s Express. And this is just a start….

The grand opening of our Yuma, AZ. location should be in mid-September. Anyone wondering “Why Yuma?” I said the same. But after spending 2 weeks in Yuma, it was pretty apparent. People there have not one single option for healthy foods. And, they need it. More so than LA, maybe even more so then SD. The local folks there seem to rarely cook for themselves, and corporate America has made this small town a huge fast food community. People eat drive thru food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So why not get them thinking about a healthier option!

I just hope I last through the heat! Heres a great pic from the Good Karma pick up window! This place will sure be missed! Till the next episode in veggie adventures…..